In the midst of all of the Hurricane Irma planning, I took a break with some friends to see IT. I only really knew the basics of this movie. I had never seen the original and my attempts at reading the book before the movie came out were dissuaded by the length of the novel. I just didn't have time to read an 1100 page book either in print or via audio (forty-four hours). I have friends who are afraid of clowns specifically because of the original movie. I've never personally understood it but after seeing the new one, I can see why.
The movie centers around the lives of a group of young kids in Derry, ME. Each has their own set of personal issues and fears that they are trying to overcome. These are played on by Pennywise, the evil clown that lurks in the sewers abducting the children in town one by one. He eats their flesh and feeds on their fears. Because he feeds on their fears, a clown is not the only thing chasing these kids all over town. Their fears manifest themselves in other forms. The story is about overcoming the fears you have, both literally and metaphorically.
The movie is set in the late 80's and as such it managed to impress me with its ability to make life look like it did then. Especially during the scenes in the drug store. When it comes to movies set in other time periods that involve well known products, I'm always impressed by the ability of the production designers to find a way to get the old packaging right. The sets perfectly captured life in a small New England town at the end of the decade.
I couldn't find any glaring plot holes in the movie, although there were a few scenes that felt as though they may have been cut for time. That being said, there are a few scenes in which the feel of the scene doesn't really match the seriousness of what's happening. As an example, the young girl in the movie, Beverly, ends up calling her friends over because her entire bathroom is covered in blood. The kids decide to get to work cleaning it. Up until this point, the mood has been serious and somber. Suddenly you're forced into the cleaning montage which includes odd and upbeat music as though the kids are trying to clean up after a raging party before their parents get up. The music pulls you out of the serious mood of the film immediately. Perhaps that's the point?
I had a little trouble with how quickly they each began to overcome their fears. Each kid would have a meltdown and then immediately be OK. I understood that in a scary situation such as they were in a decision would have to be made internally to buck up and get themselves together but it didn't seem true to life. Perhaps I've just seen too many horror films where people freak out and continue to carry on and on and on with it instead of collecting themselves and powering through.
As for Pennywise the Clown himself, Bill Skaarsgard was equal parts terrifying and ridiculous. Most of the time when he was attacking or chasing the children he was scary and creepy. But once he opened his mouth to talk, it didn't seem as bad. Well, at least until his face unhinged and revealed rows upon rows of teeth. I do have to admit that I couldn't handle that part. I realize that it's not really part of the story to have the clown be silent, but I think it would have added to the level of terror more.
The creators of this movie did an excellent job of ensuring that we did have some laughs to fall back on from time to time. One of the characters settled into a grove of "your mom" jokes that was somehow not just nostalgic but still funnier than it should be. Somehow they managed to make a horror movie with a Stand By Me feel to it and I applaud them for it.
I don't tend to do well with the type of horror movies that depend on things jumping out at you or loud noises. I can say honestly that I only jumped a few times but mostly because I didn't see it coming. Many of the scares you can see are about to happen and you can prepare your brain for them. Unfortunately for me this was only part one of two movies about this wretched clown.
As someone who hates horror movies, I have to say that I actually enjoyed this one for the most part. If you're into this sort of thing I think you'll probably like it too.